College Football Picks: Bet #11 Clemson Over Louisville in Thursday's ESPN Showdown

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, September 17, 2015 1:51 PM GMT

Thursday, Sep. 17, 2015 1:51 PM GMT

Read this betting week 3 preview on Thursday’s ESPN nationally televised game between Clemson and Louisville that concludes with a point spread college football pick.

ACC Opener for Tigers and Cardinals on Thursday
Clemson and Louisville will meet on Thursday in the ACC Opener for both teams. The opening kickoff at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville is slated for 7:30 PM ET. The game will be aired nationally by ESPN. According to current (9:30 AM ET) College Football Odds at Bookmaker, Clemson is a 5.5 point road favorite, and the posted total is 52.0. Clemson defeated Louisville at home last season 23-17, but failed to cover as a 9.0 point favorite, and the game went under the total of 46.5.

 

Tough Task for #11 Clemson
Ordinarily when you have a 2-0 team (Clemson) which is nationally ranked facing an 0-2 opponent, it would be considered a mismatch to some sort of degree. This won’t be the case tonight despite the disparity of records. Granted Clemson is still a road favorite today, but the Tigers will be facing their sternest test to date. Clemson opened the season with wins over Wofford 49-10 and then last Saturday’s 41-10 romp over Appalachian State. Sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson is off to a terrific start. The Heisman Trophy hopeful was 37-of-48 (77.1%) passing for 442 yards and 5 touchdowns. It must be noted, Watson was pulled after the first offensive series of the 3rd quarter in both games, due to the lopsided nature of those contests. The Tigers defensive unit has been stout, allowing their first two opponents a combined 511 yards, and forced 4 turnovers.

 

Wounded Animal is a Dangerous One
The Louisville Cardinals are off to an unexpected 0-2 start to this 2015 campaign. Their 31-24 loss to #20 Auburn wasn’t a disastrous result at the time. However, Auburn’s come from behind overtime win over Jacksonville State last week dropped the Tigers 14 spots in the AP Poll, and has one wondering if they’re an overrated team at this juncture. The real blow was a stunning 34-31 home loss as a 13.0 point favorite to Houston last Saturday. Louisville committed 4 turnovers in that defeat, and their defense allowed Houston’s to rack up 462 total yards of offense. Louisville has now turned the ball over 6 times in their first two games. If the Cardinals are to have a legitimate shot to upset Clemson, their running game needs to be much better than a week ago, and they certainly need vast improvement in terms of ball security. The Tigers had a mere 70 yards rushing, and averaged a paltry 2.7 yards per attempt in their loss to Houston. That particular facet of their game was especially disappointing, considering they ran for 238 yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry against Auburn.

 

Final Analysis
If this game was played a week ago, I would’ve relished the opportunity to take Louisville as nearly a touchdown home underdog. A lot has changed between then and now. The Cardinals defense has been nowhere near as good as Bobby Petrino predicted it would be, and their quarterback situation is a bit unsettled. I also hate laying points on the road which makes this a very difficult choice. I’m going to sit this one out in terms of my College Football Picks. If you did put the proverbial gun to my head, I’d have a tiny lean toward the road favorite.

College Football Pick: Play on Clemson -5.5 at Bookmaker (Strictly an opinion based pick).

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